L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Bharti Teletech plans to invest Rs 4.5 crore
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
Bharti Teletech, a manufacturer of fixed line phones, is planning an investment of Rs 4.50 crore during 2006-07 on manufacturing and R&D. Its production facilities are located in Hambran village in Ludhiana and in Goa. “Post-investment, the Ludhiana unit will have an annual production capacity of 3.5 million units whereas the Goa unit will have the 3 million capacity,” said Mr Rakesh Bharti Mittal, vice-chairman and managing director, Bharti Teletech, here today.

He said Bharti was also looking at a 100 per cent growth in exports by exporting 1.5 million phones this year.

Mr Mittal announced that the company had completed its production of 30 millionth phone, consolidating its position as one of the largest manufacturers of telephone instruments in the world. The company had completed the fastest-ever production of 10 million phones in just two years and 10 months, he said.

Talking about broadband services, which, he said, are expected to give a major fillip to the fixed line phones market, he said the company was looking for to a tender that would be floated shortly by the BSNL. “We are currently manufacturing 30,000 modems for China and are prepared for additional manufacturing, if we get an order,” he said.

He said unlike the global trend, where the growth in sales of mobile phones and fixed line phones were simultaneous, the market witnessed a stagnation in fixed line phone sales. However, with broadband services catching up and telephone service providers actively promoting these, a resurgence was expected and the market was likely to grow by at least 15 per cent.



Blast at tea stall claims one life
Our Correspondent

Those injured in blast
Those injured in blast

Mandi Gobindgarh, January 12
One person was killed and four were injured in a blast at a tea stall, near S.K. Weighing Bridge on the G.T. Road, here today. Bhim Kumar, a helper and brother-in-law of the stall owner, was killed while Pramod Kumar (25), owner of the stall, his brother Vinod Kumar (35), who worked with him, truck drivers Rinkoo (25) and Raghbir Singh from Nawanshahr were wounded.

On a statement of Pramod Kumar, a resident of Satgorey, Shivam district, and at present living in Mohalla Sangat Pura, here, the police has registered an FIR against the driver of truck number 5123, Rana, under Sections 304A and 337 of the IPC.

Pramod has stated that Rana, after unloading scrap from his truck at a factory, parked his truck near his stall at 10:30 am. He brought a bomb-like thing and began to play with it by throwing it towards other truck drivers, who were sitting there to take tea.

After some time, he hung the bomb-like thing from a pole at the stall. After he objected to it, the driver threw it towards a truck parked nearby. The thing exploded killing Bhim Kumar (16), who was cleaning utensils near the truck, on the spot.

The impact of the blast was so powerful that it scattered the utensils and filled the area with dust and smoke.

The wounded were admitted to the local Civil Hospital and the body of Bhim Kumar was sent for a post-mortem examination.

According to the police, truck driver Rana has absconded. Ms Japreet Kaur Talwar, Deputy Commissioner, Fatehgarh Sahib, was not available for comments.

However, Mr Sandeep Hans, SDM, Amloh, said the scrap was loaded in the trucks after obtaining proper clearance from the Customs Department. Firms had been instructed to make sure that vehicles carrying scrap did not contain any dangerous thing. The expenses on the treatment of the injured would be met by the government, Mr Has said.



Weekly power cuts on industry put on hold
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
Endeavoring to tackle the ongoing power crisis by purchasing power from other states, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has held the decision to impose weekly off on industry in abeyance.

“It was earlier decided to impose weekly cut on industry but we have been communicated that the decision would not be implemented till further orders,” confirmed Mr D.B. Arora, Chief Engineer (Central Zone), Ludhiana. Scheduled cuts of two hours on residential areas, however, would continue, he said.

Despite the postponement of this decision, industry remains apprehensive. “We wonder what the situation would be in summers if the problem has reached such a stage. If imposed, it would be the after 27 years that industry would have weekly offs in winters,” said Mr Avtar Singh, general secretary, Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU).

Even as board officials say there are only two hours of scheduled cuts, several residential areas have been facing unscheduled cuts extending upto even five-six hours. “Till yesterday there was a cut for an hour in the morning every day, followed by cuts in the afternoon too. Today power was off for two hours in the morning and it went off several times during the day too,” said Sunita Sharma, a resident.

The situation is not any better in areas where industry is located and unscheduled cuts ranged between one and three hours this morning.

Industrialists said that unscheduled cuts caused production losses and increased costs as they had to incur fixed expenses and also bear labour costs.

Troubled over poor power situation in winters, industrialists said it was becoming increasingly difficult for industry to survive in Punjab. “Problems like poor electricity supply and that too in industrial town are the last thing one wants. We are disappointed that the PSEB is not able to manage the problem even in winters when demand is quite low,” another industrialist said.

Blaming PSEB for increasing power tariffs “time and again”, industry representatives said the board should not increase tariffs if it cannot tackle the crisis. “The problem needs to be solved on an urgent basis to prevent closure of industry,” said an industrialist.



Chickenpox cases create scare in city
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, January 12
Detection of around 20 cases of chickenpox in slum areas along the Pakhowal road here during the course of a free medical check-up camp yesterday has created a scare in the city. The camp was organised by an NGO with the assistance of Chhabra Hospital.

More than 150 persons were examined at the camp. Several children and adults were found afflicted by chickenpox. The patients had rashes and eruptions all over their bodies. There were at least nine full blown cases of chickenpox.

Patients were given free medicines on the occasion. They were also advised about necessary steps to check infection from spreading further.

According to District Epidemiologist, Dr Ajit Singh Chawla, teams of medical professionals and health staff have been sent to the affected areas to assess the situation and educate the residents about necessary preventive measures.

The health staff will conduct a door-to-door survey and screen chickenpox cases so that the patients can be isolated for proper management and follow-up.

Due to exorbitant price of the vaccine, the department was not in a position to do anything more than educating the people about management of the disease and steps to check further spread of the infection, he added.



Kashipur: rights forum stir on Jan 17
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
The Punjab Rights Forum, a joint platform of various organisations, today announced a statewide agitation programme against several Sikhs families being rendered homeless in Kashipur. A meeting of the forum was held here and it was presided over by Justice A.S. Bains.

The forum announced that a statewide protest would be held at the district headquarters on January 17 to coincide with the “World Anti-Hanging Day”. Besides, condemning the Kashipur incident, the forum would also seek abolition of the death penalty in India and clemency to Devinderpal Singh Bhuller, who is on the death row.

The forum has demanded the release of all Sikh prisoners in the country.

It was also decided at the meeting that a delegation, led by Mr Surinderpal Singh, would visit Kashipur to have an on the spot assessment of the losses to the Sikh families. The forum rejected the 3.5-acre package for the Sikh settlers.

It said it was those people who had turned the waste land there so fertile and productive and now they were being turned out of the place.



Anganwari workers block traffic
Our Correspondent

Samrala, January 12
Anganwari workers blocked traffic for around 30 minutes on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh road in front of the court complex today. They were protesting against the non-implementation of their already accepted demands. They claimed these demands were accepted more than two years ago.

The workers came in a procession from their tehsil headquarters office under the leadership of their district president Hardev Kaur and some office-bearers of the union.

The call for the protest was given by the Punjab State Anganwaries Union.

The workers also burnt an effigy of the Education Minister. The traffic was restored after the arrival of Ms Balraj Kaur Sekhon, Tehsildar-cum-Executive Magistrate.



CITU protest against EPF interest reduction
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
Strongly condemning the decision to reduce interest rate on Employees Provident Fund (EPF), the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) today said it would hold protest rallies and dharnas in various districts across the state on January 20.

“It is an issue related to social security. We want the government to maintain interest rate at 9.5 per cent,” said Mr Jatinder Pal Singh, district vice-president, CITU.

Terming the decision as “anti-employee”, the union, which conducted a meeting to discuss the matter here today, said the decision would not be accepted. The union urged employees of various departments to participate in the protest.



Passing Thru

Sohail Lashari
Mr Sohail Lashari, former senior vice-president, Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry

How can trade between India and Pakistan get a boost?

It has been over three years that the two nations have been talking of improving trade relations. I strongly feel that recommendations having been made, it is time to implement the measures that have already been discussed.

How much is the trade potential?

Trade can increase to $ 1 billion from the current $ 500 million within the next five years if the measures are implemented properly. It is time for companies, both large scale and small scale, in the two countries to go in for joint ventures to emerge successful and competitive. Textiles, leather, chemicals, agriculture, steel, auto parts and plastics are among the few industries where potential remains untapped.

What are the hurdles?

For businessmen, obtaining visas remains a problem. Visa facilitation on border is a must. Besides, I strongly feel an atmosphere, where not only large industrialists, but also small entrepreneurs can trade without hesitation in each other’s countries, needs to be created. We should not forget that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) form a large chunk of industry in both India and Pakistan.

— Shveta Pathak



Siahar thath row: factions hold parallel functions
Kanchan Vasdev and Mahesh Sharma
Tribune News Service

Siahar/Dhepai, January 12
Even as the deadlock over the headship of Nanaksar thath continues and the administration has imposed Section 144 of the CrPC, the warring factions have begun celebrations to mark the birth centenary of Baba Meehan Singh, founder of the trust, at two different places.

As the war over the headship continued, the mother temple of the trust — the thath at Siahar — wore a deserted look with police personnel posted outside the place. Devotees from all over the district, however, kept coming in small numbers to pay obeisance there.

The camp belonging to Baba Mann Singh, backed by almost all villagers from Siahar, started celebrations at the village gurdwara, while the supporters of Baba Harnek Singh started celebrations at Nanaksar thath at Dhepai village.

Devotees from all parts of the state and NRIs from the UK, Canada and the USA are coming here to attend the function. Both parties are claiming that hundreds of people will attend their respective functions. It is for the third consecutive year that the function is not being organised at the mother temple.

While Baba Mann Singh stayed away from the media, the grandson of Baba Meehan Singh, Mr Harminder Singh, who specially visited the village from Canada, said they all wanted that the controversy over the issue was laid to rest and the possession of the mother temple was given to them.

He also said that the Baba Harnek Singh group was organising the function at Dhapei village although the saint was born in Siahar.

On the other hand, Mr Pal Singh, a spokesperson of the Baba Harnek Singh group, said the Baba was not able to come for the function from Canada as he had to attend a function in Vancouver, where bhog of 101 “akhand paths” would take place.

‘‘He was in England today where he attended a nagar kirtan. He would fly to Canada and attend function there tomorrow,” he added.

He added that the deadlock was continuing and cases were in the court. He added that their faction would not budge from its stand and would not let go the control of the mother temple.

Mr Jagdev Singh Aandloo, a spokesperson from the Baba Harnek Singh group, said they wanted to organise function in the mother temple and had even given an application to the Deputy Commissioner, but he did not allow them to do so fearing law and order problem.

Mr Harjinder Singh Mahauli, who remained a head raagi with Baba Meehan Singh for 22 years, said they had chosen Baba Mann Singh as their religious leader due to “some activities” of Baba Harnek Singh. He also said that they were not after any property as was being portrayed by the other group.



DSP under scanner in extortion case
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
With the Punjab Vigilance Bureau impleading another former SHO of the city police in the infamous ‘extortion by cops’ case, the heat has now turned to a DSP of the city, who was allegedly ‘supporting’ the accused cops in the scandal.

The Vigilance Bureau had yesterday included SI Balwinder Singh, former SHO, Division No 6 at present posted with special staff of the city police, in an FIR lodged last month under the Prevention of Corruption Act against SI Warryam Singh, ex-SHO Focal Point police station, Head Constable-cum-munshi of the police station Kuldip Singh, another Head Constable Avtar Singh and SPO Harwinder Singh.

This has completed the Vigilance action of registration of cases against the four accused. The investigation has now turned to the role of a DSP who was allegedly supporting the two accused former SHOs.

Reliable Vigilance sources have revealed that though there was some proof of the involvement of the DSP in the case, legal action could only be taken against him on the basis of the statement of the accused ex-SHOs. Both were , however, yet to be arrested.

The arrested Head Constables have, in a statement to the Vigilance, named the two former SHOs for ‘active’ involvement in forcing industrialists to pay money. They had no direct link with the DSP but have hinted that the ex-SHOs were being sheltered by a DSP.

According to the Vigilance officials, SI Balwinder Singh had, while posted as SHO of the Division No 6 police station, allowed the other three accused to keep a city industrialist, Mr Sushil Kumar Bedi, in illegal custody in his police station.

The other three accused were posted with the Focal Point police station where they had picked up the city industrialist for storing 10 drums of kerosene against the rules. He was, however, detained in Division No 6 police station.

Mr M S Chhinna, SP Flying Squad, Vigilance Bureau, Punjab, who had claimed that the accused cops were running a money minting racket in the city maintained while talking to Ludhiana Tribune today that a senior official was also involved in the case. He said his role was under investigation and revealing his identity could hamper the results.

Reliable sources revealed that the Vigilance was investigating if the DSP had received kickbacks in the extortion case or not.

Meanwhile, separate teams of the Vigilance Bureau conducted raids in different parts of the district to nab the two accused former SHOs. They, however, have succeeded in eluding arrest so far.

The case involves the sad plight of a city industrialist, Mr Sushil Kumar Bedi. He had in his complaint to the state Vigilance Bureau alleged that he was picked up by the accused on October 29 from his factory. The accused cops had also taken away six drums of kerosene oil stored in his factory. They threatened to book him for illegally storing the kerosene oil, for which a permit is required.

The cops kept him in the Division No 6 police station that night where as they were posted in the Focal Point police station. The cops kept in regular touch with a senior police official over their mobile phone. They told Mr Bedi that he will have to pay Rs 3 lakh or ‘celebrate’ Divali festival in custody only.



Protest against hike in water, sewerage bills
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
Activists of the BJP today staged a protest rally against the hike in water and sewerage bills and later staged a dharna outside the Municipal Corporation office. The rallyists also flayed the state government for allowing such "anti-public" policies. The agitators raised slogans against the Congress-led government in the state for burdening the poor people with hiked bills.

Former Deputy Speaker Satpal Gosain along with other senior leaders, including Mr Prem Gupta, Dr Subhash Verma and Mr Parvin Bansal, led the rally.

Addressing the protest rally, Dr Verma said the state government had announced that it would waive the water and sewerage bills for poor residents but they had increased the bills.

He added that even the city Mayor had promised a number of times that he would get the hike withdrawn from the government but no action had been taken. It was becoming difficult for the people to pay the bills which were almost double then the normal amount.

He demanded that the commodities like water should be provided free to the residents as it was an essential item. 



BJP leaders’ remarks malicious: CPI
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
Communist leaders have strongly reacted to the statement of some BJP leaders accusing them of working into the hands of multinational companies. In a joint statement issued here today, CPI leaders Kartar Bowani, district secretary, Dr Arun Mitra, assistant secretary, and Mr Ramesh Rattan, city secretary, Ludhiana, claimed that the Communists had always stood for preservation and promotion of national heritage, culture, traditional values and utilisation of traditional method of therapy in a scientific manner, as against the opening of floodgates to the entry of MNCs during the NDA regime.

They pointed out that the contribution of great Communist leader P.C. Joshi and several others were well-known in this regard. Terming the BJP leaders’ statement as malicious and falsification of truth, the CPI leaders described their contribution to freedom movement and references about Mahatma Gandhi as mere hypocrisy. “While a large number of Communists were in jail in 1942 BJP (then Jan Sangh) leaders were conniving with the British, and this fact was brought to the notice of the nation during 1998 general elections”, they alleged.



Police probes loss in burglary bid at showroom
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
The police is still investigating if there was any loss to the owner in the attempted burglary at the Bluemount showroom on the GT Road in December. It has maintained that in the complaint filed by owner of the showroom Sanjiv Jain there had been no mention of loss suffered in the attempted burglary.

Referring to reports published in various newspapers, SP, Ludhiana II, Kuldeep Singh said here today that during the investigations it had been established that Mr Jain had only reported about the attempt to burglary at his shop as they had been working out the loss then.

He said it was obvious that after noticing the attempt to theft, the owner would have apprehended a massive loss. But, on the initial verification they could not make exact assessment of the loss.

The police official observed that there appeared to be some communication gap on the issue, which led to the confusion that Mr Jain had claimed a loss of about Rs 10 lakh.

The owner of the showroom had brought the matter to the notice of some senior police officials and pointed out that they had never made any complaint about Rs 10-lakh loss, but had only reported the attempt of theft at the showroom.

The SP preliminary investigations had revealed that the burglars had only tried to break into the showroom and had not been able to take away anything. They were still being questioned, he said, adding that two of the gang members were still 
at large.



Sales tax officials raid 2 food units
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 12
Officials of the Excise and Taxation Department raided two food and confectionary units, owned by a group, in Manna Singh Nagar, Near Chhawni Mohalla, here yesterday as part of the ongoing drive against tax evaders.

A team of officials, led by Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner D.K. Verma, raided Abba Foods and its sister concern Mega Foods and inspected their account books, sales and purchase records and stocks. The department had received the information that the firms were selling goods without proper invoices thus evading payment of valued added tax (VAT).

While the officials declined to give more details, they said the documents were being studied and the extent of evasion of tax would be known only after the process was completed. Sources in the department said the department had detected a huge tax evasion by the group.



Dharna staged
Our Correspondent

Khamano, January 12
A two-hour long dharna was organised near Civil Hospital here to provide the status of CMC to the hospital and deputation of four doctors on regular basis. The dharna was organised by the local unit of the BJP under the chairmanship of district general secretary Kuldip Madaan. They raised slogans against the Punjab Government.

Mr Madaan said about Rs 1 crore had been spent on the building of the hospital a few years ago. However, its status was of a dispensary and there was only one doctor on regular basis.

Mr Balvir Chand Kapila, Chairman, Discipline Action Committee, Punjab, said state government had failed to provide basic facilities to the poor people. He threatened to launch an agitation if their demands were not met immediately.

The agitators marched through the town after the dharna and handed over a memorandum to the local SDM, Mr Ravinder Kumar, for its forwarding to the Governor of Punjab. 



Tributes paid to industrialist

Ludhiana, January 12
Rich tributes were paid to Rattan Paul Bhatia, doyen of the steel industry of Mandi Gobindgarh, at his kirya ceremony yesterday. Mr Bhatia (75) died away 10 days ago.

Mr Bhatia, who was a zonal chairman of the Steel Rerolling Mills Association of India, played a major role in the development of the steel industry in Mandi Gobindgarh.

Mr Chanan Singh Matharoo, Mr Inderjit Singh Pradhan, president, and Mr Avtar Singh, general secretary, Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings, mourned the death. — OC



One held for stealing engine

Jagraon, January 12
The Humbran police arrested Devinder Singh of Salempura and recovered Peter Engine from his possession. According to the information, the Peter Engine belonged to Karam Singh of Salempura and was allegedly stolen by Devinder Singh and his father Jagtar Singh of the village about 12 days ago. The police has registered a case under Section 379 IPC. Jagtar Singh is yet to be arrested.

Liquor seized: Sulakhan Singh of Baghian was arrested by the Sidhwanbet police from Sheikh Daulat village and the police seized 18,750 ml of illicit liquor. A case under the Excise Act has been registered.

Arrested for gambling: Vicky Anand of Punjabi Bagh, Jagraon, was arrested by the police while alluring people to multiply the money by investing in number game and booked him under Sections 13A, 3, 67 of the Gambling Act. The police seized card- board, pen and Rs 130 from his possession. — OC



Two teenage robbers caught
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
Two teenagers studying in Class-12 were caught by the city police minutes after they had snatched a purse containing Rs 90,000 from a Delhi-based woman, who had come to meet her daughter and son-in-law working as doctors in the DMC Hospital here.

The robbers identified as Pawan Kumar and Vishal Kumar had come on a motor cycle and snatched the purse from the woman, Gurminder Kaur near Punjab Agricultural University today late afternoon.

The woman raised an alarm at which some passers-by called up the police control room. Fortunately, the alleged robbers could not avoid a police nakka, established on the road and were caught with the money.

The youth were studying in a school in Salem Tabri police. The police said the youth have disclosed their addresses which were being verified.



Case registered
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, January 12
The police has registered a fraud case under Sections 420, 467, 468 and 471 of the IPC on the complaint of Mr P.C. Singla, Chief Manger, State Bank of Patiala, against Mr Vikram Dutta, son of Ashok Dutta, a resident of Mandi Gobindgarh, who has been working with M/s Chaudhry Manphool Singh Satya Prakash, Mandi Gobindgarh. Mr Dutta allegedly withdrew Rs 10 lakh from the bank account of the firm with forged signatures. The alleged accused is absconding.


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